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UPDATE 1-Thailand says Russia agrees to supply Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine

Thu 22nd April, 2021 12:40pm
* Thailand diversifying sources of vaccines
    * Infections should decline in 1-2 weeks - expert
    * Pfizer to supply 10 mln doses - health minister
    * Thai mass vaccinations yet to start

 (Adds details throughout)
    By Panarat Thepgumpanat
    BANGKOK, April 22 (Reuters) - Russia has accepted a request
to provide Thailand with its Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, a
Thai official said on Thursday, as the Southeast Asian nation
steps up efforts to find more vaccines ahead of its mass
immunisation drive. 
    Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has promised to find 35
million more doses of COVID-19 vaccines from different companies
on top of existing orders of around 65 million doses, while the
country battles its fastest-spreading outbreak yet. 
    "President Vladimir Putin has expressed his support for the
Thai government on this matter," government spokesman Anucha
Burapachaisri said.
    "Our health ministry will now urgently talk to the company
importing the Sputnik V vaccine on the timeframe for delivery,
the amount and price," he said.
    Thailand, which has been credited for its swift containment
of previous outbreaks, has yet to start mass vaccinations and
its plan until recently was centered almost entirely on 61
million doses of AstraZeneca's  AZN.L , which a local firm will
manufacture. 
    However, it is now looking to diversify its sources of
vaccines, amid competition for global supplies and as it tackles
a third wave of infections that has seen about 40% of its total
cases reported in the past three weeks alone.
    Health officials on Thursday said Thailand may have hit the
peak of that wave, which include the highly transmissible
B.1.1.7 variant.
    "We project that the number of cases will gradually drop in
one or two weeks," Opas Karnkawinpong, Director-General of the
Disease Control Department said.
    Thailand reported seven new deaths from COVID-19 on
Thursday, its highest number of fatalities in a single day,
taking its overall total to 117. It also reported 1,470
infections, taking total cases to 48,113. 
    Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul held talks on Thursday
with a representative of Pfizer  PFE.N , which he said would
provide Thailand with 10 million doses of its vaccine. 
    "The main thing is the timeframe for the delivery, the price
is not a concern and people's safety is more important," Anutin
said.
    Thailand has been using Sinovac Biotech's  SVA.O  vaccine
for its initial inoculations, of mainly frontline health
workers, as well as imported doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine. 
    So far, nearly 865,000 people have received at least one
shot. 

 (Reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat and Panu Wongcha-um; Editing
by Martin Petty)
 ((Panu.Wongcha-um@thomsonreuters.com; +6626488658;))
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